The good, the bad, and why we won’t renew our subscription
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Note: I bought and paid for the Preschool Box myself, and all opinions are my own. This is NOT a sponsored post.
I love subscription boxes, particularly for kid activities and crafts. I try to do some sort of art project with the kids every single day, even if it’s just plopping out some watercolors and paper, so it’s nice to have a few subscription boxes to shake things up.
The Preschool Box is a monthly subscription service that sends a variety of activities, crafts, and worksheets. Each box builds on the last, and the idea is that by completing a full twelve months of boxes, your child will have completed a basic preschool curriculum.
We’ve been enjoying the activities in The Preschool Box over the last couple of weeks, and I pulled out the last few activities on a rainy Saturday while hubbie was out of town and the TV had been on a little too long.
We’ve enjoyed 75% of the activities in the kit. That said, we won’t be renewing our subscription.
The Nitty Gritty:
- The Preschool Box costs $32.99 per month (plus shipping) — less if sign up for a long-term subscription. I honestly think this is a pretty good deal if you are a fan of the activities in the kit (more on that below).
- The website states that the kit is suited for children aged 3-6 (see my thoughts on that below).
- There is the option to purchases boxes with enough materials for more than one child, which is awesome if you have multiple kids in this age range.
- The first month of The Preschool Box subscription contains a ton of activities:
- four craft activities
- a sorting mat with materials for three activities
- three hands-on numeracy activities using beans, playdough, velcro dots, and condiment cups (all provided)
- four letter tracing worksheets and one number writing sheet
- flashcards for letters A-D and a suggested activity each week using the flashcards
- a sequencing worksheet
- a picture book
- The instructional brochure included in the box recommends five activities per week, with the goal of completing the box in four weeks (so, one activity per day, more or less). Most of the activities repeat week-to-week, using a different letter each week.
- They also offer theme boxes (princess, space, Halloween, dinos, etc.) that you can purchase separately
What I Liked About The Preschool Box
- I liked that several of the materials and activities could be repeated multiple times — the playdough, the sorting mat, the flashcards, and the counting cups activity all could be re-used multiple times.
- I liked the hands-on activity using the flashcards. Flashcards can be really dull, and the idea of using them as a scavenger hunt got my four-year-old excited.
- All the materials are included, so there’s no hunting around for a glue stick or number labels when you want to start a project.
- Nearly all of the activities encouraged fine-motor skills, like rolling the playdough, holding a pencil, cutting or ripping paper, and gluing and placing beans, etc. Since my preschool child barely sits still (unless the TV is on 🙄), I am always looking for opportunities to build those fine motor skills.
- I liked the way activities were repeated each week — there is a letter craft each week, a flashcard activity each week, a tracing sheet each week, etc. I think this helps kids gain confidence because they recognize the activity more quickly, and it helps the parent since they don’t have to study complex directions each day.
What Bugged Me About The Preschool Box
- I’m a little confused about which age/grade-level the box is best for. The tracing activity sheets were just right for my emerging reader, except that I’m not a fan of worksheets. But the numeracy activities were way, way too easy for her and are better suited to kids in their late-two’s/early-three’s. (For example, in one activity they simply put the correct number of pom-poms into labeled cups from 1-5).
- The service states that “The Preschool box is a monthly subscription that teaches your preschooler basic reading and math skills to help prepare them for elementary school.” But, in my opinion, this kit is in NO way a complete preschool curriculum. Additionally, they do not provide any guidance about what might be missing. If you use this subscription service as the primary curriculum for your preschool child, you need to make sure that you are also providing ample read-alouds, outdoor time, gross motor play, and sensory play, just for starters. In my mind, this subscription works as a supplement to a complete preschool curriculum, and it would not work as a primary or core curriculum. That’s totally fine, but this subscription should provide clearer guidance about how to fill in the gaps and how this kit functions within the broader scope and sequence of preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten prep.
- When I went online to cancel my subscription, I clicked the box that said “skip my next renewal”. What was NOT clear was that I was merely skipping a month, not canceling altogether. I was confused when I got a charge the next month. A quick chat with customer service got me sorted out, but I was still bothered by the hassle of having the charge reversed. I’m a busy mom, and I could have used those 15 minutes prepping dinner or playing with my kids, instead of looking up their website, finding the customer service info, putting in a request, etc.
The Bottom Line
We won’t be continuing with our Preschool Box subscription for two main reasons:
- We already have plenty of letter practice activities through our other pre-k homeschool curricula (WAY more than enough, to be honest). We just don’t need more, and receiving another letter-based activity box was making me feel overwhelmed.
- Many of the activities in the box use worksheets, which just isn’t our style. To be fair, my daughter did enjoy the worksheets in the kit, but I honestly prefer play-based learning activities when available. Our reading curriculum and our math curriculum already use some worksheets, so I really didn’t want to introduce any more.
The last reason is that my daughter just wasn’t into the craft activities. They were super cute, so I didn’t understand her aversion at first. Then I realized, the crafts were product-oriented vs. process-oriented.
In other words, the crafts have a specific outcome in mind. She only completed one of the crafts independently (with encouragement), and required intensive adult encouragement for two others. The fourth she abandoned after five minutes, despite adult help. To be clear, she was fully capable of performing the tasks involved in the craft, but she just got bored after she had figured out the task (glue beans in the shape of a “B,” glue brown construction paper in the shape of a “C”). In our house, we have a lot more success with crafts that don’t have a clear outcome in mind and that focus more on exploring materials and techniques.
Who is The Preschool Box best for?
- Families who homeschool preschool children and need a supplement to their regular curriculum.
- Families with preschool-aged children attending traditional preschools, and who want to supplement their learning at home.
- Families who like worksheets and product-oriented crafts.
- Busy families who appreciate kits with all materials included.
- Kids who are between ages 2.5 to 3.5, who are still learning their basic letter sounds, and who are just learning how to count to five.
- Kids who need a little extra reinforcement in basic letter and counting skills.
Who Should Skip The Preschool Box?
- Homeschool or traditional-school families who are happy with their phonics/letter-learning programs.
- Families who prefer process-oriented crafts.
- Kids who are already solid in basic counting 1-20 and who already know their letters and letter sounds well.
- Families who already have a lot on their plate and would feel overwhelmed by having another item on their “to-do” list.
- Unschooling and play-based learning families.
- ⭐⭐⭐(3/5) stars as a supplemental curriculum because of the variety of activities, the fact that materials were included, and the low-cost of the kit.
- ⭐⭐(2/5) stars as a primary curriculum ONLY for those between ages 2.5-3.5, because it does cover basic letter and numeracy skills for younger preschool kids. However, the kit does not provide information or guidance to the parent about how to fill in the gaps with reading, outdoor play, gross motor skills, or sensory activities.
Better Preschool Curriculum Alternatives:
- Mother Goose Time: this is truly a complete, open-and-go preschool curriculum that I have used and loved, but it’s pricey.
- Blossom & Root: I love their focus on outdoor and nature play, fine art and music, and family connection. This a very affordable option, but you will need to purchase materials yourself.
- Torchlight Pre-K: This is what we’re using as our core curriculum for our four-year-old because of the emphasis on modern, quality literature, mindfulness and emotional regulation, and science-through-nature play.
Better subscription box alternatives:
I have tried SO many different subscription boxes, but these are the two I love most!
Have you tried The Preschool Box?
What are your thoughts about The Preschool Box? Are there other preschool subscription kits or boxed curricula that you love? Let me know in the comments below, or send me an email at [email protected]!